Posted tagged ‘poem about 70s New York’

NYC – Late Seventies

March 12, 2014
Old painting by me (supposed to be Broadway in Thick Snow!)

Old painting/collage by me (supposed to be Broadway in Thick Snow!)

New York City – Late 70s

Dear City, you were just so grey
sometimes, sky more sidewalk, building-paved–
how we loved it, the grit,
standing outside
the Pioneer Market,
up to the neck
with the two towers, pomodoro and fowl
on sale proclaimed the peeling

How great
that anywhere you were,
whatever tiled cavern you climbed out from,
you only need look up
to find out “down”–
downtown where we lived, like the guys
in the Village Voice who hadn’t been above
14th Street sporting beards–

Sleezy Deli to the East, nights, with
its bullet-proof HoHos,
but to the West by day
we could dash into the refracted brass
of the Broken Kilometer, or up a Soho blankfront
to breathe the air of a white room grounded
with the blackest earth–

Of course there was dirt
everywhere, the kind that kvetched in
our pores, even seeped inside the
cupboards as if our dishes too
wanted to wear black–

colanders upturned for star light
on the clothdroop ceilings of Sixth Street India;
“and what else” kippered the Orthodox counterguys
over brined sweetness,
the crash of Chinese opera (we always
thought) at the Lai Gong, some stringed instrument
mimicking struck cat, pork buns 25 cents–

At the bean curd factory on Broome,
the men wore
rubber boots and the guy who retrieved mine
from the blue buckets that smelled
so strongly of soy always smiling eventually
his smooth face lined with creases fine
as a pressed leaf–
when I felt low there was nothing
like that face and the pure
white cakes–

Everyone’s studio worth a visit and time to do it
with the right gig–
men not yet dying
in droves–red lights we could see forever
if we held our heads right–the night never wholly black
except sometimes on a side street
when I tried for my
hands, feet–or when I looked
for your answering gaze–
though when I moved
I could find my swish
sure enough–and sometimes you would
turn back to me–

and we could always just
look up–


A draft poem about New York in the 70’s posted for the wonderful Margaret Bednar’s prompt on With Real Toads–my computer is iffy so will be brief with process notes, but the Broken Kilometer and the Earth Room are two longterm art installations  by Walter De Maria at the Dia Art Foundation in Soho.  The men dying in droves refers to the onslaught of the AIDS epidemic.   The two towers of course the World Trade Center towers, which being at the very Southern tip of the City provided a directional landmark.   (Painting by me, doesn’t quite fit, sorry.  Margaret has some great photos on the prompt.)

PS – I realize after posting that I have misunderstood all prompts!  My brain is going as well as computer.  I am linking this to Kerry O’Connor’s  prompt on flashbacks–I will try for one with genuine present as well .  (I did at least write this in NYC in 2014, so a bit of a flashback, I guess.)